By GILLIAN MCAINSH and NONSINDISO QWABE
This year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown, incorporating the National Youth Jazz Festival, offers something to suit every jazz lover’s taste.
Friday night, for example, kicked off the action at DSG with electronic outfit The Kiffness; The Soil livened up the Guy Butler Theatre with its harmonious a cappella sound and then music superstar Judith Sephuma grooved until late at the DSG Hall in town. What a night!
THE KIFFNESS with MATTHEW GOLD
Dave Scott and new bandmate Raiven Hansmann of The Kiffness and vocalist Matthew Gold launched the jazz programme at its home base of DSG with their jazzy, funky house music.
This is the first year multi-instrumentalists Scott and Hansmann are performing live together for The Kiffness, and under Scott’s production, their combo of trumpet, synthesiser and saxophone works fantastically. Throw in the husky voice of Gold and it’s a winning outfit.
This much-loved trio raised the roof at the Monument Theatre at their first show, with the appreciative audience singing along and dancing. So much so, in fact that it was hard to hear the Soil over their joyous noise.
The quartet – they are three, but see God as the fourth member – had to ask their fans to turn it down.
“You guys paid a lot of money to come to see us – let us sing for you,” cajoled Ntsika Ngxanga but it was no use. A Soil concert is an immersive experience and it was wise just to go with the flow.
Buhle Mda is phenomenal, fronting a band which creates wonderful sounds ranging from Afro-soul and hip-hop through to gospel and more.
They don’t need instruments: Luphindo Ngxanga is a one-man backing band with his body throwing out drum, bass and beat-boxing lines. And Mr Sophistication Ngxanga has the most lyrical tone to his gorgeous voice.
All three have an amazing bond with their audience and whether it was an old favourite, a number from their new album, Echoes of Kofifi, or tributes to other artists such as Simphiwe Dana, everything they sang hit the right note.
The DSG Hall in Grahamstown came to life on Saturday evening when more than 500 afro-jazz lovers came together to bask in songbird Sephuma’s last performance at the festival.
Sephuma, who graced the room intensely as her voice filled the room, received a standing welcome, as she greeted the audience with one of her many hits, Mangwane Mpulele.
Her performance culminated an ethereal sound, suggesting an otherworldly presence.
The revered star is making waves across Africa and beyond, and on Saturday, Sephuma delivered a stellar performance to her audience, interacting and entertaining them, as she engaged with her crowd, sharing snippets of her life.
The richness of her voice filled the room with the audience singing along to her Sepedi tunes.
“I am excited to be here. It was my birthday on Thursday and I am happy to celebrate it this way. Two years ago, I was convinced that I am 40.
“However, I discovered that I was actually 42. So now, I am 44, and will remain at this age until further notice,” she said, much to the cheer of the crowd, which responded by singing Happy Birthday to the songstress.
She performed two new songs from her latest album, One Word. Belinda, which is in Lingala, and Palesa, in Sepedi, both appreciate the beauty of a woman.
“Palesa was inspired by my late little daughter. In the four months of her life, I saw God, I saw love and I saw life differently. Then she passed on. But Palesa lives on in every woman. Be a Palesa, name yourself Palesa.”
A Jamaican number got the audience on their feet, with the likes of MEC for sport, arts and culture Pemmy Majodina joining in song and dance. The crowd was treated to an hour of Sephuma’s beautiful sounds, sealing the night off with her classic A Cry, A Smile, A Dance. —